Why are Carolina Native American tribes at war with each other?

13LoweryRecently, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr wrote a newspaper column criticizing the Eastern Band of the Cherokee for opposing the South Carolina-based Catawba Tribe’s efforts to acquire land near Kings Mountain to build a casino. Burr also criticized the Cherokees for lobbying against full recognition for the Lumbee tribe because they view it as a threat to their federal benefits and gaming business.

In a response published in the June 23 News & Observer, Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, stated, “Actually, the Eastern Band has opposed Lumbee recognition legislation for literally a century, long before tribal gaming. The Lumbees have claimed to be a Cherokee tribe and at least three other historic tribes over the years, and their identity as an historic tribe and as individual descendants of an historic tribe has been questioned for many, many years.”

So, what are the facts? Where did the Lumbee people come from? How are they different from other Native Americans, and how are they alike?

Malinda Maynor Lowery, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill associate professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of the American South, takes on this challenge in her new book, “The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle.”

As a member of the Lumbee tribe with deep family roots in the Lumbee community, Lowery brings more than scholarship to her explanation of her people’s origins and history. She weaves her family’s experience with the defining events in Lumbee history. The main characters in Lumbee and family history turn out to be a fascinating blend of characters, heroes and scoundrels, preachers and bootleggers, lawyers and lawbreakers, and farmers, all deeply attached to the swampy lands along the Lumber River in Robeson County.

In the early 1700s, as early American Indian tribes were decimated by disease and the relentless pressure from European settlement, remnants from these groups made their way to the Lumber River (then called Downing Creek). By the 1750s, Lowery writes, “the people of Downing Creek and its swamps knit together families and places. They traced belonging through kinship, spoke English and farmed.”

Lowery cites reports of violent action in 1773 at Downing Creek that included the names of “Chavis, Locklear, Grooms, Ivey, Sweat, Kearsey, and Dial families, all ancestors of today’s Lumbees.”

During and after the Civil War, Henry Berry Lowry and his gang made war on the white establishment. Though Lowry escaped punishment, a cohort, Henderson Oxendine, was captured and hanged in 1871. For his last words, he sang “Amazing Grace" and “And Can I Yet Delay,” an old Methodist hymn. Oxendine is Malinda Lowery’s great-great-grandfather. Henry Berry Lowry is remembered and revered in the community as the Lumbee Robin Hood.

In the post-Civil War and Jim Crow times, Lumbees fought for Indian schools, state recognition and a tribal name, finally settling on the Lumbee name in the 1950s.

One defining event in Lumbee history occurred in 1958 when a large group of Lumbees disrupted a Ku Klux Klan rally near Maxton and chased its leaders away, gaining positive national attention for the Lumbee.

The Lumbee effort for federal recognition gained partial success in 1956 with the passage of the Lumbee Act. It recognized the tribe as Indian but did not make its people eligible for the benefits accorded other recognized tribes.

As for the future, Lowery closes her book with a strong argument for full recognition of the Lumbee. “Under pressure of European settlement, our ancestors abandoned many of our oldest homeplaces, but having existed for nearly 300 years along the Lumber River, we will not forsake this place.”

Lowery may not persuade everyone that the Lumbee tribe should gain full recognition. But what she has shown conclusively is that the Lumbee people are entitled to respect, admiration and appreciation for their 300-plus years struggle to build and hold their community together.

Photo: Malinda Maynor Lowery

‘Reclaimed!’ One person’s trash is another person’s art

10SiemeringThe quality I most admire in artists is their ability to see possibility in what many would overlook. This concept is clearly evidenced through the current exhibition held at the Arts Council through Aug. 17. “Reclaimed!” is sponsored by Waste Management and the city of Fayetteville’s Environmental Services Department. It highlights art that is made primarily with recycled, repurposed and found materials. This exhibition and the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County’s partnership with its generous sponsor has been in existence for many years. However, each year the results are radically different. This year, the organizers went national and put out a call for art to creatives from around the country.

Juried by Bryant Holsenbeck, an environmental artist from Durham, the Arts Council received more than 100 entries from artists across the nation, and just over half were selected for inclusion in this exhibition. Holsenbeck also chose first-, secondand third-place awards. First place went to Rebecca Siemering for “Tuft Enough.” Siemering, an artist from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, created what looks like a onesie for a child — made of dental floss and betting slips. From a distance, this work looks to be made from tufted wool or knitted material. Only a close examination reveals the unique materials used to create this work.

Second place went to Bill Sieber from Carbondale, Illinois, for “Ocean Sweep.” This work is remarkable in its simplicity, yet it reflects environmental concerns that are incredibly current. The artist strung together plastic drinking straws with fishing line to create a representation of a fishing net.

The third-place award went to Michael Weddington, an artist from Matthews, North Carolina, for “Piano Lessons: Old School, New Didactic.” The work is crafted from reclaimed piano keys and other hardware combined with wood and metal.

There are many other notable works in this exhibition, including several from local and regional artists. Sherry Young, from Fayetteville, has two works in “Reclaimed!” — including a fish made from Styrofoam cups and a seahorse made from zip ties. Raul Rubiera, also from Fayetteville, has a piece that is striking in its minimalism and balance. It is made from two saw blades connected by a branch and mounted on a slice of a tree trunk.

Many works, like Rubiera’s, are not just works of beauty created with recycled, reclaimed and found materials; they also state something more profound. Rubiera describes his work as “a mixture of natural materials and the tools that transform that material into a tamed object.” While the description and the work itself does not place judgment on the materials or usage thereof, it does make the viewer think more critically about what we toss aside to make our lives more comfortable and more convenient.

Art has the power to make us think critically about our lives. This exhibition does just that while also showcasing the transformative nature of objects and the art that can be created from what is normally discarded.

This exhibition is on display at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, 301 Hay St., until Aug. 17. For gallery hours and more information, visit

4th Friday features new exhibits, live music

09Alice Osborn2There’s a longstanding opportunity to engage with this community’s arts and culture scene: Fayetteville’s monthly 4th Friday, sponsored by Cool Spring Downtown District. This month’s event, as usual, takes place in idyllic downtown Fayetteville. Set for June 28 from 6-10 p.m., its theme is “Love Local.”

“Love local” is an easy mandate to follow, as downtown is bursting with both longtime and new galleries, bookstores, bistros and shops to explore.

Cape Fear Studios and Gallery, located at 148- 1 Maxwell St., will hold an opening reception for its 2019 Nellie Allen Smith National Pottery Competition. The reception will last from 6-8 p.m., and the show will be up through July 23. CFS has hosted this competition for more than 20 years. The initial goal was to give local clay artists an opportunity to compete with their peers. The show has now grown to provide a nationally competitive stage, with entries coming in from across the U.S. To learn more, visit www. or call 910-433-2986.

The Fayetteville Area Transportation & Local History Museum will hold a special 4th Friday celebration highlighting its current exhibit, “Baseball in Fayetteville.” This fun and educational exhibit focuses on the nearly 150 years of baseball history in this community — including the fact that Babe Ruth hit his first professional baseball home run here. It was also here that he picked up the nickname “Babe.”

The Market House, at the roundabout of Person, Hay, Green and Gillespie Streets, will open a new temporary exhibit, “Centennial of Pope Army Airfield,” from 6-9 p.m. The Market House’s permanent exhibit, “A View from the Square: A History of Downtown Fayetteville,” will also be open.

There’s also live music to enjoy. Alice Osborn, a Piedmont-area performer whose music and lyrics are rooted in folk Americana and the New South, will perform at Bright Light Brewing Company, 444 W Russell St. From 7-10 p.m., Osborn will play tunes that are upbeat and informed by her identity as both an accomplished poet and an American history buff. She is the president of the North Carolina Songwriters Coop and lives in Raleigh with her family. She also plays Celtic fiddle and bluegrass banjo. Visit to learn more about her, and call Bright Light at 910-339-0464 to learn more about her show in Fayetteville.

These are just a few of the many events and activities happening downtown June 28. For more information about 4th Friday, visit or call Cool Spring Downtown District at 910-223-1089.

Photo: Alice Osborn

Fayetteville After Five welcomes classic rock and country singers

08rivermistSummer after summer, Fayetteville After Five provides free concerts in Festival Park. Showstopping artists hit the stage every second Friday from May until August, providing the perfect weekend kickoff. It wouldn’t be perfect without a few finger-licking snacks, however. Come hungry and let the many food trucks offerings at Festival Park fill you up.

Alternative, rock and pop band 120 Minutes and Eagles tribute band On The Border kicked off the summer with every classic from the ’70s to the ’90s. Rivermist and Kasey Tyndall are coming July 12 and Aug. 9, respectively, to finish off the season with some classic rock and country tunes.

Local band Rivermist was formed right here in Fayetteville in 2014, though the musicians have been playing in and around the Fayetteville area for more than 20 years. A classic rock and variety party band, Rivermist is known for bringing excitement and energy to any venue, which is one reason it has won awards like Up & Coming Weekly’s Best of Fayetteville.

The band also knows how to cater to its audience. They’ve been known to play every artist from Earth, Wind & Fire to Bruno Mars and more. After being booked at different festivals and concert series all over North Carolina and Virginia for the past few years, Rivermist has clearly been busy rockin’ the Carolinas (and more).

Closing out the summer is country singer Kasey Tyndall. Audiences might recognize her hit debut single “Everything is Texas,” which earned recognition by being included on the Wild Country Spotify playlist and the music video hit Top 10 on CMT’s 12 Pack Countdown.

Tyndall’s debut album, “Between Salvation and Survival,” has gathered over 1 million streams on Spotify since its release in January 2019.

Tyndall traded her plans to study nursing at East Carolina University for the life of a country music star when she won a radio station contest in 2014. The prize was the opportunity to sing “We Were Us” with Keith Urban. Since then, she has only grown in success.

“Wrap Around Porch,” Tyndall’s latest single, was written by Nashville stars Laura Veltz, Josh Thompson and Jessie Jo Dillon. “The moment I heard this song, it felt like me,” she says on Spotify. “Lyrically, it speaks to the life so many of us grew up with — we dream big, but it’s the simple things that make us happy.” Tyndall has also collaborated with artists like Ashley McBryde and Lainey Wilson.

The gates for Fayetteville After Five open at 5 p.m. The acts begin around 6:30 p.m. and end around 10:30 p.m. Don’t forget to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket. Coolers, canopies and outside food and beverages are not allowed. Service dogs are always welcome. The free concerts are located at Festival Park, 335 Ray Ave.

Photo: Rivermist

‘Crawdads’: Is the best-seller really ours?

11CrawdadsNorth Carolina likes to be No. 1 — at everything.

We declare ourselves to be “First in Flight.” But it took a couple of Ohio boys to make that happen.

We declare ourselves to be “First in Freedom” based on the May 20, 1775, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a controversial claim that many historians dispute.

We also love it when books written by North Carolinians or set in our state become No. 1 best-sellers on The New York Times list.

So this year we are bragging about “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a book set in the fictional eastern North Carolina town of Barkley Cove, and the surrounding marshes, coves and ocean waters.

This book by Delia Owens has been on the Times’ list, usually at No. 1, for 35 weeks.

But there is a problem. We will get to that in a moment, after we consider a few things about the book that explain why it has already sold more than 2 million copies.

“Crawdads” is literary fiction with strong writing and lovely descriptions of nature’s plants and creatures. A compelling murder mystery with an unexpected ending gives readers a superior entertainment experience.

Owens is a fan of “A Sand County Almanac,” a book of nature-themed essays by Aldo Leopold. She wanted to write a book with a similar nature focus, but one that also has a strong storyline.

“Crawdads” is the result. Its success demonstrates that the combination of good writing, a solid story and interesting information about serious topics can be a commercial success.

The book’s central character, Catherine Clark or “Kya,” lives by herself in a shack in the marshes, miles away from town. People in Barkley Cove think she is weird, keep their distance, and call her “the Marsh Girl.” She spent only one day in school and cannot read or write. However, because she is smart and diligent, she learns about the nature of the marshes.

She meets Tate Walker, a young man from Barkley Cove. He senses her strengths and shares her love of plants and animals. He teaches her to read and write, and falls in love with her.

When Tate leaves Kya behind to study science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, she is devastated. But she rebounds to the seductive charms of Chase Andrews, a town football hero and big shot. Their secret affair is interrupted by Chase’s marriage to another woman, and Kya is again distraught.

Overcoming these disappointments, Kya leverages her reading, writing and self-taught artistic talents to record the nature world that surrounds her. When Tate, now a scientist, returns to her life, he persuades her to submit her work for publication. That book is a great success, and she writes and illustrates several more.

All this is background for the story that begins on the first pages of the book. Chase is found dead at the bottom of an old fire tower. Kya is a suspect and is ultimately charged, arrested, put in prison and tried for Chase’s murder.

The author’s deftness in setting up this situation, and resolving it smoothly, has helped make it a best-seller. “Crawdads” gained the attention of beloved actress Reese Witherspoon. Fox 2000 has acquired film rights and plans for Witherspoon to be the producer.

We can hope that the movie will be shot in North Carolina. But here, the book’s problem jumps up. The geography described in the book, with palmettos and deep marshes adjoining ocean coves, seems to fit South Carolina or Georgia coastal landscapes better than North Carolina’s coastlands.

Nevertheless, whatever the moviemakers decide, North Carolinians can bask in the reflected glory of a No. 1 best-seller that claims our state for its setting.

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